Tuesday, March 6, 2012

DIY Fence Easels

If you are a teacher, homeschool mom, or home daycare provider you might be like me and get catalogs from school supply companies. I love those books. I look through them and day-dream about what I could get for my kids. One of the things that has always caught my eye was the fence easels. But those things are around $80 for ONE. And I mean one easel per kid. There was no way I could allow myself to spend that kind of money on it. 

I have been doing a lot of thinking since re-opening my home kidcare/preschool about what I could do with the back yard to make it more fun. I have been "window" shopping again online and in books. I found those easels again and my longing to have them increased. But as I looked them over I began to think in a whole new direction...

I can make those, or more precisely, my husband can help me make those. I printed out pictures of what I wanted, one of the single and one of the double just to see what we might need. I put the measurements on the paper so we could estimate how big they should be. Then off to Home*Depot we went.  

First thing we needed to look for was the backing to use for the boards. We were intending to make double easels. We found a large sheet of white panel board. John measured it and figured we could cut the board into four equal pieces and they would be long enough for three children to use per sheet. We asked the man that worked there to cut it. He was thrilled to do it. He actually ended up helping us come up with the things to hold it to the fence instead of having to make holes and finding hooks that would work. He found us large green clamps to put on each end and one in the middle. Plus right next to those were the small ones to hang the paper with. I was thrilled, they matched. 

We are able to use small sheets of paper or the larger ones. I have been so blessed because friends have saved used paper for me and we use the side that hasn't been used. This is one way we help save the resources God provides, our own way of recycling paper. 

We looked all over the place for something to use that would hold the paint while the children painted and had a really hard time. I had purchased these wire racks at Dollar*Tree a few years ago and thought we might be able to make them work. My husband was able to make it so easily. And they lift right off when it is time to bring everything inside.  

I found the Melissa & Doug Easel Accessory Set through Amazon* for under $27/each. They come with the four buckets for paint, four brushes, four bottles of paint, chalk pencil set (can be used on paper, or sidewalk, or chalk board), a large roll of drawing/paint paper, one dry erase marker and a dry erase eraser. I need to get more dry erase markers and will have to replace the paint as we use it. I purchased one for each easel. I got some cheap Artist Aprons to use until I can replace them with better quality. 

The shorter fence is perfect for younger children. The older children use the higher fence. These store very easily, too. They aren't bulky because the racks come off and stack on top of each other. The boards are stored standing up against the wall. I keep the clamps in a bag. My paints are stored on a shelf in the garage with other art supplies and outside toys. 

The kids love dry erase boards so this works out GREAT. No marker stink INSIDE the house and they get to have fun. They can draw pictures or even play Hangman, which is something the older kids love to do. 

Here is our supply list:

1-Thrifty White Panel Board (cut into 4 equal parts) $11.97
12-2"Spring Clamp Metal Heavy Duty (3 per board) $11.88
24-Mini Spring Clamp (6 per board, 2 per child) $8.88
4 wire baskets (1 per board) $4.00
Nuts and Bolts to attach the baskets with (he had them already)

Cost to make four easels for up to 12 children to use $36.73 plus tax (I saved myself OVER $900)

Here is another quick project I did. I took a oil pan and used Command Strips to stick it to my front door. We can use any magnets we want on the board. They make numbers and letters and even animals. We will be using this board for a lot of different projects with the kids.

The board itself I found at a auto supply store for $10. I had the Command Strips already. You can use Velcro strips if you have them. I just used what was available and I knew would work. 

Most magnetic boards that big are well over $25, if not closer to $40. So I saved quite a bit on that project, too. There are no sharp edges on it so it is totally safe for children to use. I got this idea (minus the way I hung it) from that great pin board! 

Until next time...blessings to you.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Community Gardening Class/Field Trip

Here are some fun photo's of our field trip to Veteran's Park. We had a good time even though we were working. So proud of the kids and their hard work. 

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That is our progress report for today. Thanks for stopping by.